Galactic Battlecruisers – Part 4: Collisions and obstacles
by Diego Beltrami
Space is mostly empty. But empty is boring. That’s why in the game you can include obstacles to make the game board more interesting. They give more meaning to positioning meaning that distance is not the only thing to have in mind when moving.
These obstacles come in the form of asteroids and asteroid fields. They’re randomly put in the board occupying between one and three tiles. What they do, besides blocking movement through them is blocking line of sight, so they act partially as cover. There are two types. The difference beside the space they occupy is that asteroids can be destroyed while asteroid fields can’t. So you might be hiding behind an asteroid but your opponent might want to use one of his attacks to remove the pesky rock leaving you exposed.
This mechanic proved to be quite fun during playtesting. It gave more depth to movement as the hiding mechanic allowed some respite for the player on the run while increasing difficulty of movement for the other player.
Collisions are another fun mechanic that can prove to be a double edged sword. They’re a staple of space combat, we’ve seen it everywhere “Raming speed” will scream the captain. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, videogames like Starlancer. When you are in command of a giant metal boulder sometimes smashing it against the enemy is the best course of action. This game couldn’t be any less.
Here collisions work by assigning damage to the affected sectors depending on how many tiles the ship travelled before collision*. Damage is equal to both ships and it ignores shields, so it’s equally deadly for both parties. There is damage splash if the hit system gets to -or if it’s already at- maximum damage. It’s an extreme measure, probably to finish off one of the enemies critical systems (maybe the CIC even) but very risky as it leaves the ship completely open for retaliation.
There are fun things to do with collision too. The collided ship is displaced one tile after impact, that way a clever captain might be able to ram the ship when it’s right by an asteroid on the other side, sandwich it and causing more damage (impacting an asteroid in that scenario would deal one point of damage to the subsystem that corresponds).
Both these systems are there to make movement more meaningful. You don’t want to expose a critical system to an enemy in case he tries to ram it, and asteroids might be difficult to navigate through but provide some means of cover.
I think that I have to explore more means to make movement more meaningful in the game. My fear is that close range have too few drawbacks making it too optimal while longer range is abandoned. Maybe give longer range more benefits besides less accuracy for the enemy. Perhaps the changes I have in mind for the next iteration could solve that issue. We’ll see.
*There is a maximum of two right now. It means that it only takes into account the last movement made before collision. It might change if it proves to actually be fun but I’m concerned about it being too exploitable. I don’t want someone travelling at full speed from the other side of the map just to rip the enemy ship in half.